INDEPENDENT NEWS

ACT announces Freedom to Learn education policy

Published: Sun 16 Jun 2019 01:00 PM
ACT announces Freedom to Learn education policy
EMBARGOED UNTIL 1:00PM, SUNDAY, 16 JUNE 2019
“New Zealand’s education system will be revitalised by giving all children the freedom to learn and by empowering families to make better educational choices”, ACT Leader David Seymour says.
Student Education Accounts and new Partnership Schools, announced today as part of ACT’s Freedom to Learn education policy, will create a vibrant marketplace of educators offering new opportunities for all children.
“Government spends almost $15 billion on education each year, but the results are highly unequal and slowly declining. Children have a wide range of needs, but our one-size-fits-all education system has failed to adapt and provide every student with a good education. Too many children are leaving school without the basic skills they need to navigate a rapidly-changing world.
“New Zealand experiences significant educational inequality. We have some of the highest-performing schools and students in the world, but we also have a long tail of underachievement in disadvantaged communities. A 2014 report by the Tertiary Education Commission found 40 per cent of Year 12 students failed to meet international benchmarks for literacy and numeracy even though they had NCEA Level 2.
“Skills increasingly matter, and they’ll be even more important in the future as more jobs are automated. We are sending students into a world where skills matter more at a time they’ve got less of them.
“Schools must be given the flexibility to respond to a diversity of needs, and all children – not just the well-off – should have a choice in education.
“The Government will spend $250,000 on taxpayer-funded education over the life of every baby born this year, but parents have little control over how it is spent. We could get much better value for that money for all children – but especially disadvantaged children – if it was used to empower families to choose their school.
“ACT will give every child a Student Education Account at the age of two. Each year until a student is 18, $12,000 will be placed into that Account. At the age of 18, they will receive a further $30,000 for tertiary education, with up to $50,000 available top academic achievers through a scholarship program.
“Parents will be able to spend that money at any registered education institution, public or private, that will accept their child’s enrolment. If parents and children are satisfied with the education they are receiving, they can stay at their current school. If not, they can use the funding in their Student Education Account to receive a better education.
“ACT will also allow any state school to apply to become a Partnership School. Government should fund a range of schools, letting families – not politicians – choose what is best for them, rather than forcing students to attend their closest school. Until Jacinda Ardern’s Government ended the Partnership School model, iwi, Pasifika, and community groups were providing innovative education and changing kids’ lives for the better.
“ACT’s Student Education Accounts and Partnership Schools will create a vibrant marketplace of educators offering new opportunities for all children. New Zealand needs an education system that celebrates diversity and engages every student.”

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